EU citizens currently resident in Britain must be allowed to remain after the UK leaves the European Union, Labour MEPs have told the government.
In a letter to Amber Rudd, Labour MEPs warn the home secretary:
"A number of our constituents who are EU citizens living in the UK have expressed grave concerns about their rights to permanently remain in the UK, some are being treated unfairly or in a threatening way by the Home Office since the Brexit vote.
"EU nationals have complained that in order to obtain permanent residency, applicants are being presented with an 85-page form requiring huge files of documentation, including P60s for five years, historic utility bills and a diary of all the occasions an individual has left the country since they settled in the UK. Some have received letters inviting them to prepare to leave the country after failing to tick one of the boxes on the form. As elected representatives we need to represent and protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK as well as the rights of British citizens living in Europe.
"The Labour Party has joined us in calling for urgent unilateral action by the Prime Minister to secure the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and call on her to abandon her position of refusing to act without securing equivalent guarantees for the 1.2 million UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU. EU citizens have been feeling very anxious about their future since the referendum result and as their representatives in the European Parliament we are calling on the government to guarantee the right of EU citizens currently living lawfully in the UK to remain in the UK after Brexit.
"We believe this is a necessary first step before article 50 is triggered and UK’s Brexit negotiations begin."
Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:
"I met with home secretary Amber Rudd at the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Malta to raise the issue of EU citizens' rights with her. Labour MEPs are keeping a check on casework of EU citizens' experiencing difficulties with the Home Office, and we will continue to push for urgent action from the government.
"We have also, together with colleagues from across Europe, written to the prime minister to assure EU citizens living in the UK that their rights as EU citizens will be fully respected as long as the UK is a member of the European Union, even once Article 50 has been triggered - and to ensure the rights of the more than one and a half million Britons living in EU countries are protected.
"Yesterday, Theresa May said EU citizens living in the UK make a “vital contribution to our society and economy”, and that without the contribution of more than three million European nationals Britain would be "poorer" and public services "weaker". Fine words, but it is by her actions that she will be judged."